It’s a Friday afternoon, and I’m finishing up some projects on my laptop while Katy naps. This is the last weekday afternoon in the foreseeable future where I’ll be able to do this: by the time this post goes live, I’ll be back in a full-time job for the first time since last July.
It’s been a great ride. Being unemployed while pregnant was great; having so many daylight hours with Katy in the months since she was born has been an unimaginable luxury. I was here for so many of her firsts – first back-to-front flip, first time sitting up, first crawling attempts – and while she won’t remember these moments at all, I know I’ll treasure them till I’m old and grey.
The thing is, though, this hasn’t been me. It’s been a great break from Real Life, but it was never meant to be a substitute.
More than ever before, I have so much respect for stay-at-home parents. I tried, and I didn’t love it. It’s nothing to do with Katy, who is great. It’s just me. As one of my friends put it very succinctly: “Parenthood is not a lifestyle I’d willingly choose.”
I can’t help but feel guilty that, given the opportunity to be a full-time stay-home mum, I copped out and went back to work. I know this guilt is irrational. I know I will feel it every time Katy wails when I leave the house, and every time I have to work late and not see her before she goes to bed. And I have to learn to accept that this is part of the balance I’m continually trying to strike between being Mummy and being, well, me.
And so with the knowledge that Katy is in great hands, that she will have awesome days with or without me around, and that this was a chapter that had to end eventually… it’s time to get back to the business of (re)building that career I set aside more than a year ago.
It’ll be a very long while before Katy can even begin to fathom why there could be anything in the world important enough for me to forgo spending time with her. But that day will come, and when it does, I have a feeling she’ll understand.